Tuesday, November 08, 2005

Out of the mouths of babes

Those of you who know me, know I love to write. With my sister being a published author I have often wondered if my enjoyment of writing is hereditary.
Well, I found my answer, in a way, when I first read the journal I will be sharing with you. Apparently it does.
This is one of three blog style essays my daughter Kayla, age 15 wrote. She didn't write this for school, she just did it for fun.
So today I don't write as a disgruntled moderate, or incensed citizen or even for amusement or entertainment.
I send you this as a proud daddy. I hope you enjoy it as much as I did.
by Kayla Swenson
Racism. It's something you don't hear much nowadays except as a joke at a party. But it's far from a joke. When some people hear 'racism', they think 'Oh, like that time ago when African-Americans worked on plantations...' or 'Like World War II against the Japanese, but thats over now...'. Many people believe that racism is gone, left behind in the past, that we've reached a point without it. But they're wrong, dead wrong.
Look around you, at the people walking around you, at work, in the office, at the store. Do you see those kids teasing and belittling that Latino or do your eyes just roam over it, considering it normal? Do you ignore the people shunning that Middle-Eastern man, just because of the Iraqi war? Is it considered alright for yelling at someone who's wearing a sign of their religion, such as a pentagram to show their Wiccan beliefs?
Look at how you treat people yourself. Do you find yourself scooting slightly away from one person who seems mentally retarded, do you find yourself being cold, abrubt, rude just because they are different? Does the word 'terrorism' just jump into your mind when you see someone who's Iraqi?
I'm not trying to say that you are all racist people and need to change your ways, I'm saying that sometimes we don't realize what we're doing because of fear or uncertainty engraved deep in our minds. I too find myself acting subconsciously in ways I abhor. But I try to fight that bit of abomination in my attitude. Do you?
People everywhere suffer from racism, whether we refuse to see it or not. It's there, perhaps engraved from religion, from fear, from uncertainty of the unknown, who knows, it could be from anything. But it is no excuse to refuse to admit another human being's existence, to treat them like dogs. In WWII the Japanese were placed in camps where latrines overflowed, people often had colic and diahrrea, and other stomache/intestine illnesses.
During the Holocaust, millions of Jews were murdered, sent to the crematories, stripped of everything resembling a human, every instinct turned to a savage, animal like need for survival. [For a good insight on this, Night by Ellie Wiesel is a great telling of what exactly happened].
But I wonder, does the book really hit people? Do people really understand it or do their minds automatically shy away from those horrors and view it as a fairy tale? Often while reading Night I caught myself thinking "He won't let his main character die!" then I remember, with guilt, this isn't a fiction but a real story, so horrible that the mind tries to hide from it.
Is it human nature to refuse to admit shortcomings? Is it human nature to refuse to admit that by denying the fact that that peron is human you're denying their right to exist? Such behavior is abominable, terrible, and should never just be ignored, brushed aside, forgotten.
Humans are some of the few species that feel the need to think ahead, think in the past, but what happens when our heads are so far into the future or so buried in the past that we forget about the present? Is it then that racism and prejudice emerge?